I think television has been forever changed by “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” which aired its series finale Friday.
The titular “ex” is Rebecca Bunch (co-creator Rachel Bloom). In the last episode, she talks about her habit of singing about her life in original songs paying homage to Broadway, Beyonce and beyond.
“It’s weird,” she admits. And that’s true of the show’s storyline as well.
A Harvard-trained Manhattan attorney, Bunch is deeply, crazily miserable. On the street one day, she spies the guy she once crushed on in summer camp, jaunty Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), and decides to chuck her upscale life and resettle in his hometown of West Covina, Calif. — without telling him that she’s stalking him in the hope of finding the happiness that has always eluded her. So yes, not your typical rom-com plot.
And then there are those songs, which are truly weird and absolutely wonderful. Perhaps the most outrageous was “The Sexy Getting Ready Song,” a candlelit tribute to plucking, de-callusing and butt-waxing. The rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot this past week, made a cameo in that number, declaring, “I got to go apologize to some bitches.” (This is one of many music videos from the show available on YouTube; past seasons are on Netflix.)
But the show was far more than a series of weird and wacky moments. It boldly explored mental illness (Bunch was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder). It could go very dark (her suicide attempt). And it was openly, defiantly Jewish, with jokes that gleefully played with anti-Semitic stereotypes. Rebecca says one client named Moshe offered her “diamonds, discounts — those are some like classic Jew moves, you know?"
Sure, “Crazy Ex” could be corny and self-indulgent as characters sought to find their best selves. But in the end, the show had insight coming “out the wazoo,” to quote a line from the finale. Like the Bible’s Jacob, who wrestles with God, Rebecca wrestles with her very soul in that last episode. Although true to the show’s goofy spirit, her inner wrestling match occurs in a dream she has after falling asleep on the toilet.